Gay Teens Bullied to the Point of Suicide
The Power of Parents
Since parents of gay kids are generally not gay themselves, even the most loving can find it hard to know how to respond when their child comes out. When Rashad Davis was 15, his mom, Deon Davis, sensed that there was something he wasn't telling her. "He was very, very depressed," recalls Deon, 44, a dialysis nurse from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. "I'd say, 'Honey, please talk to me, you know I can handle it.' He'd say, 'No, Mom, it's just school,' and go to his room. Then, driving him to school one day, I saw cuts all over his arm. I asked if he was hurting himself and he said yes."
Afraid that Rashad might be suicidal, Deon called his health-insurance plan, which sent a therapist directly to their home. A few weeks later, with the therapist present, Rashad told his mom the source of his agony: He'd realized he was gay and he was terrified that family and friends would reject him. "I took a big swallow," says Deon. "I forced myself to say 'okay' and hug him, but then I went off and cried all night long."
Deon was confused -- this was the last thing she expected. "Rashad was 200 percent boy," she ex-plains. "He wanted to play every sport and do every boy thing." And despite what she'd told her son, she really wasn't okay with it at all. "I'd been taught in my family and church that being gay was wrong and I thought that Rashad was going to go to hell. I thought, 'This is disgusting. What are people going to say about us? My sister, his father, my father....'"
Still, something told her she'd better not share her fears with Rashad, and she was soon grateful to have made that decision. A week later Rashad told her about the antigay bullying he'd been experiencing at school. "I don't care if anybody else accepts me as long as you do,'" he told her. That comment really changed her attitude. "I knew I would have to be his protector and guide," she says.